Hacker changes the way people with colour blindness see the world

Hacker changes the way people with colour blindness see the world

Dan Kaminsky, the hacker responsible for saving us from some major DNS flaws has created an app to change the way colour blind people see the world. And he’s done so with an app.

The Story

This morning, Kaminsky tells us the story of the app’s creation, which started with none other than the Star Trek movie…

To set the scene: one year ago, a hacker and his engineer friend are at the theater in Taiwan watching the movie when his friend mentions he is colour blind. Dan inquisitively asks his friend “What did you think of the green alien in the movie?” His friend had no idea the alien was green and in fact thought the alien was more of a tan colour. Dan, who is admittedly not a graphic designer, decided to fire up Photoshop and experimented with different colors.
Dan, by nature, can’t help but fixate on problems until he’s found a solution so he continued working until finally an idea was born.

Over the last year or so (in addition to being a security expert) Dan worked on the initial coding to make an app. He first coded a PC version then brought in additional developers to port it to the iPhone and Android.

The App

Dan’s app, which he called DanKam, is an augmented reality experience for the colour blind. The app uses the devices camera to augment a colour blind person’s perception of colours by enabling users to differentiate between tones, hues and colours that would normally be invisible to them. After launching the app, it automatically allows you to view the world through the camera while overlaying different colour schemes.

DanKam has a series of different modes such as converting all colours to red, showing only a few colours at once, increasing saturation or adjusting white balance. The user can play with the modes and sliders until they’re able to capture the colours properly. While the colour modes are a bit complicated to explain, the key is to play around with the modes until it works, just like adjusting the reception on your TV.

The user has a choice of using the app with the device’s cam (live view) or pulling in an image from the devices photo library. After a pic is selected, the settings and modes can be tweaked in the same way as the live view mode.

This is the first app I’ve ever seen that has potentially far reaching medical benefits and it’s a fascinating new experimental technology. I’m not personally colour blind so I can’t test the app effectively, from what Dan told me, the positive responses from the community have been overwhelming. The app is available on  iTunes and through the Android Market for $2.99

If you’re colour blind or you know someone who is, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the app.

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